Reviewed by: Gator MacReady

This is sort of a REAL Spinal Tap. The singers are major weirdos and their fans are unbalanced. Tribute bands, for the uninitiated, are bands formed by obsessive fans of real bands. They make a healthy living playing gigs in clubs and have a legion of followers all their own.

Larger Than Life are a very, very close imitation of the legendary Seventies group Kiss, for example. And sometimes they go a little too far in their impersonations. The lead singer actually believes himself to be Gene Simmons. Needless to say, he flips, burns his house down and finds religion.

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Are all other tribute bands this wacky? Rich Fox and Kris Curry's film would lead you to believe so. There is no such thing as a typical day for these guys. Whether it's break-ups, make-ups, cancellations or sell-outs, they are always busy with some kind of craziness. Thankfully for us, hilarity ensues.

Also, there are enough varying personalities to keep viewers consistently entertained for the full 90 minutes. The show is stolen, however, by a demented Queen fanatic. The tribute band is called Sheer Heart Attack and their Superfan is one weird dude. Almost everything in his house is something or other Queenish - he flew to Italy just to get a Freddie Mercury clock. He feels safe knowing that Brian May lives nearby in LA and believes that Freddie and Princess Diana speak to him from the heavens in skywriting. Uh...yeah.

Another wonderful scene is the Larger Than Life auditions. Everyone knows that Kiss was huge on performance and patter. But when rehearsing, Larger Than Life play it straight. However, the man auditioning for the lead replacement has seriously lost the plot. He's completely hatstand and if you're not watching this sequence through the gaps in your fingers, there's something wrong with you. Remember the scene in Back To The Future when Marty goes wild with the electric guitar and Marvin Berry and the Starlighters look on in horror and disbelief? Well, multiply that by a million and you'll get the picture.

Most of the time is spent with Larger Than Life and their founder - imagine Quentin Tarantino crossed with Elias Koteas. We are also introduced to The Missing Link, who are a Monkees tribute - weren't they just a Beatles rip-off?. Their leader quits to play Paul McCartney full time, plus Michael Bolton on the side, leaving the incredibly stoic Al Gore-type Michael Nesmith wannabe to run the show. He's a sympathetic guy and it's good to watch him rebuild the group.

Interspersed between rapid cutting back and forth are the stories of a heavy metal mailman and a tyre yard nearly man. Both are great real-life characters and have a lot of neat stories to tell.

This is definitely one of the best documentaries of late and it's well worth the time and effort. You'll find yourself laughing more than you expect, I promise.

Reviewed on: 16 Aug 2002
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Rockumentary following the lives of tribute bands and their fans.

Director: Kris Curry, Rich Fox

Starring: Larger Than Life, The Missing Links, Sheer Heart Attack

Year: 2001

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: US


EIFF 2002

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